What is Swine Flu?
Swine Flu is also known as the H1N1 virus which is a relatively new strain of an influenza virus that causes symptoms similar to the regular flu. It originated in pigs but is spread primarily from person to person. The Swine flu was initially seen in humans in Mexico in 2009. Swine Flu essentially considered a disease of winters. Swine flu became a pandemic. Pandemics are contagious diseases affecting people throughout the world or on multiple continents at the same time. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the H1N1 pandemic over in August 2010. Since then, the H1N1 virus has been known as a regular human flu virus.
Like other strains of the flu, H1N1 is highly contagious. It is an air-borne disease which spreads quickly from person to person. A simple sneeze can spread thousands of germs. It spreads through coughing and sneezing, indirect contact by touching a contaminated object or surface (like telephone, cell phones, computers, door handles, etc.) and close contact (handshaking, hugging, kissing, etc.). Prevention is the best means of dealing with this disease. Hand sanitization and staying away from infected people will also help to stop person to person transmission.
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Symptoms of Swine Flu:
The symptoms of swine flu are very much similar to other influenza. The symptoms are:
- Sore Throat
- Stuffy Nose
- Difficulty in Breathing
- Headache & Body ache
- Blood-Stained Sputum
Types of Swine Flu / Influenza Virus:
There are three different types of influenza virus that affects humans – A, B, and C.
Human influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease almost every winter. Type A flu virus is constantly changing and is generally responsible for the large flu epidemics. The influenza A2 virus (and other variants of influenza) is spread by people who are already infected. An area that an infected person has touched and their rooms where he has been recently, especially areas where he has been sneezing are the most common hot spot flu areas. Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on two proteins on the surface of the virus: the Hemagglutinin (H) and Neuraminidase (N).
Just like type A, type B flu is found only in humans. Type B flu may cause a less severe reaction than type A but occasionally, type B flu can still be extremely harmful. Influenza type B viruses are not divided into subtypes but can be further broken down into lineages and strains. Currently circulating influenza B viruses belong to one of two lineages: B/Yamagata and B/Victoria.
Type C flu viruses do not cause epidemics and are also found in humans. Type C flu viruses are milder than either type A or B. People generally do not become very ill from the influenza type C viruses. Type C flu viruses have a limited host range and a lack of genetic diversity. Due to this, this form of influenza does not cause pandemics in humans.
Who is prone to swine flu?
As it is flu-like other types of flues and it is infectious disease so risk factors for getting swine flu are the same as for any other strain of the flu. If you are living or spending time in an infected area, you are more prone to swine flu.
People who at risk of contracting swine flu includes:
- Newborn babies and children up to 16 years of age
- Pregnant women
- Adults over age of 60
- People with chronic illnesses such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, or neuromuscular disease
- Those who are morbidly obese
- Those who are immunosuppressed due to certain medications or HIV
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Treatment of Swine Flu:
In this disease, prevention is the best treatment but if still someone infected, early treatment is urgently required. It also depends on the condition of the patient. If swine flu detected in the early stages, antiviral medicines work best. Severe cases of swine flu may require intravenous hydration. Patients are encouraged to stay at home, take complete bed rest and avoid contact with other people as much as possible. You should focus on relieving your symptoms and preventing the spread of the H1N1 to other people.
Antibiotics won’t do anything for you because flu is caused by a virus, not by the bacteria. Two antiviral drugs are recommended for treating swine flu: the oral drugs Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), Peramivir (Rapivab) and Zanamivir (Relenza). Because flu viruses can develop resistance to these drugs, they’re often reserved for people who are at high risk for complications from the flu. Vaccines are available for different kinds of swine flu. Over-the-counter pain remedies and cold and flu medications can help relieve aches, pains, and fever.
What to do?
If you are infected with H1N1 and taking treatment, you should do some below steps for early relief.
- Take plenty of rest. It will boost your immune system.
- Drink plenty of liquid like water, soup, and juices to prevent dehydration.
- Wash your hands throughout the day with soap and water.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Avoid people who are sick.
The winter is just starting. It is better to take precautions before any disease attacks you. Remember one thing that the virus is always around us. H1N1 is also a virus which can attack anyone anytime specially to those who have weak immunity. Because Swine flu virus is spread in air so be aware if anyone is sneezing or coughing around you. Always wash your hands and avoid close contact of a patient and infected areas because precaution is better than cure.